Clearing the Air around the Legalization of Cannabis

On October 17, 2018 Cannabis will be legal in Canada and available for recreational use.  In 2000, the Canadian court ruled that Canadians have a constitutional right to use Cannabis for medicinal purposes, to help patients deal with chronic pain and other debilitating health conditions.

Recreational marijuana is about to become a government sponsored experiment this week and the world is watching to see how the experiment goes. Many have expressed concern about the impact this could have on our younger people, the safety of our roads and job performance as people experiment recreationally.

The issue that many are wrestling with is not about cannabis for medicinal use, but for recreational use, and the impairment qualities of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) that accompany it.  Some have compared it to the consumption of alcohol and since Jesus himself provided wine in John chapter 2—that Jesus would by all means endorse recreational cannabis use as well.

Scripture teaches that alcohol (if consumed) is to be used in moderation and that God’s concern with over-consumption is that it leads to drunkenness and an inability to “… be clear minded and self-controlled so that we can pray” (1 Peter 4:7).  This is a wonderful filter to help us navigate mood altering substances.  

Much is being discussed about the amount of THC that can be consumed before a person experiences a ‘high.’  The University of Rochester Medical School Center has outlined the following symptoms that accompany elevated THC levels:

·     Feeling of joy, relaxation

·     Increased sight, hearing, and taste perceptions

·     Increased appetite

·     Loss of coordination, making it difficult, even dangerous, to perform tasks like driving a car

·     False sense of time

·     Trouble thinking and problem solving that can also affect driving 

·     Unable to tell the difference between oneself and others

·     Anxiety or panic reactions or being overly suspicious and distrustful

Scripture teaches that, “Everything is permissible for me”–but not everything is beneficial.  “Everything is permissible for me”–but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12).  This passage is about the sacred nature of the body and God approved sexual expression. The principle of “permissible and beneficial” can be helpful for us as we consider what’s beautiful and best in many areas of our lives – including the legalization of cannabis.  It appears that cannabis (for medicinal use) has beneficial health properties, and the recreational use with elevated THC levels presents some hazards to seriously consider.

It is true that Scripture teaches that there are disputable matters (Romans 14) that are to be left to the conscience and to the validation of the Holy Spirit on a person by person basis.  There are other principles in Scripture that help guide us as we seek to honour God in all things.

We can’t go too far wrong if we commit ourselves to be “clear minded and self-controlled, so that we can pray.” (1 Peter 4:7).

The stakes are high! 

Written by Dave Larmour